My Friend, My God

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God, You cover me in cloaks of grace and love.
I will live my life for You.
I have fallen short of Your glory.
Let Your mercy reign and cover my sin.
Let Your grace hide all I have been.
Let Your love consume me now.
Make me new.
Like a hammer, life hit me hard, but You caught me in Your web of love.
I am new.
My heart and mind will change.
Only for You, my heart will sing all of what You do.
You took my life, a life of sin, and said you can start again.
All you need is to ask and receive all I have for you.
My life is not my own, but please let me show I am new.
My life belongs to the Savior of my soul, the Redeemer of my life.
You have done what only You can do.
You have won me.
You love me.
Your love stays with me even when I’m beneath the sin no child of Yours should know.
Can You show me I’m not too far? There’s still hope for me?
You came to me.
I didn’t choose You, but You chose me to be part of Your family.
I want to know, do I show what You did for me?
Do I shine with Your love?
Do I give to the least of us?
Am I a friend to the lonely?
Do I go beyond religion?
Do I show all You want us to know, that You are never mad, never angry, never bitter towards what I’ve done, but You love and still call me son?
Your grace is with me.
I will be a family to those who cannot see; I will be their eyes.
To those who cannot hear, let me be their ears.
To the girl who ran away and lost herself, she needs to know that she can still follow You.
Give her Your hand and save her from sin.
She is Your daughter, and You love her still.
To the boy who lost everything, all your days trust the Lord. He is good. He will follow You, too.
God forgives all we’ve done.
He will still call me son.
He doesn’t want anything more than for us to know His love.
His grace carries us in this rat race.
He covers my sin and will carry me till the end.

• Authored by Josh Pugh •

Sisters: Thankfulness

Colossians 3:15—the end of this verse is my favorite line in the Bible:

“And be thankful.”

Thanksgiving is a command. This is an imperative statement. It is saying, “And you, be thankful.” I believe we are commanded by God to be thankful.
I often think of thankfulness as thoughtfulness. Thankfulness and thoughtfulness go together. The Word of God tells us to think of others above ourselves. We should in fact think other people are more important than ourselves (see Philippians 2:3–4). But how often do we do that? We fight to get through traffic. We fight to be first in line. We run into the restaurant to cut someone off so maybe we can get seated three minutes before they can. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been passed on the highway only to catch up with the person who almost caused a wreck a few minutes earlier.
I think when we are thoughtful and thinking about someone else deeply—about what they have done for us or the sacrifice they have made—it evokes an overwhelmingly thankful heart. Is it thankfulness or thoughtfulness? Regardless, thoughtfulness is the root of thankfulness every time.
My cousin is on her honeymoon right now. Because I helped her plan her honeymoon, she sent me the sweetest message. She is on the final night of her honeymoon. What is going on in her mind that she would send me a text on the final night of her honeymoon? Really! The two of them were thinking about this trip and how amazing it was, so they began to be thankful for the person who helped them plan it. Here is her message:

It’s our last night. I checked in online. We are freshening up to go to the fire and then the pool. We have had the time of our lives. There have been many times I thought I needed to be pinched because everything is so perfect here. We have laughed endlessly. Thank you for booking our vacation. Thanks to you, we have had the best honeymoon imaginable. I am so thankful to have a great cousin like you. I love you. You are a prayer warrior. The weather has been incredible. God is good. We are sure this trip is a start to a very happy marriage. Thank you.

When we are mindful and thoughtful of others and we consider what they have sacrificed or what they have given, it always results in thanksgiving. The Bible tells us that in the end times, people will be lovers of themselves. They won’t be thankful because when you love yourself more than anybody else, you are not thoughtful of the person next to you.
You cannot do anything about a person who is not thoughtful. But you can do something about you. You can be one who deeply considers the sacrifice of Jesus and what He has given. When we deeply consider what He gave—His body and His blood—and that He was naked on a cross, someone gambled over having His undergarment, and He was marred beyond human likeness for our sins, then we can become thankful to God. 

Thank you, Father, that we have life. Thank you, Father, that I’m no longer a slave to sin because You have set me free. I’m no longer under the power of darkness. I’m in the power of light. It’s because of You and Your sacrifice.
Thankfulness always changes the game and your attitude. When you are thankful, you cannot remain anxious or depressed. You can’t stay there.
So here’s the challenge: Open up a journal, a notebook, sticky notes, a chalkboard, or whatever else works for you and compel yourself every day to write down what you are thankful for in the morning, at lunch, and in the afternoon. At the end of the week, I want you to see what has changed, what is different about you. Then share it with us. Come back to this blog post and tell us what is going on in your life.  

Stirring My Expectations

The Fight to Remain Hopeful in Devastating Times

All the power of Jesus flows through me because He deposited it in me through the Holy Spirit. If I speak to a mountain and I have only faith as small as a mustard seed—the tiniest thing on earth—then it will be moved. I have to have that faith, though. Faith has to be there. What is faith? “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1 NKJV).

When God spoke the world into being, He spoke. But who was listening? No one, right? So why did He have to speak if no one was actually listening? He spoke because He took what was invisible and made it visible. That is how He spoke. He spoke the invisible into the visible. When we speak, we are bringing the invisible to the visible. That is how the power works in and through us. 

But we cannot do that unless our imagination can imagine it. We have to be able to imagine it. Our imagination is generally for vain use, thinking of the negatives and the what-ifs. We think, “How will I live with this? How will I live with that?” versus “What can God do here? I can imagine this person healed and walking.” There are two ways of using your imagination: a way that gives God glory and brings miracles to pass or the way of negativity.

God meets you where your faith is. In the Bible, when Jesus was walking around, He met people exactly where they were. The majority of the time, there had to be a point of expectation where they were expecting to receive something from Jesus. They didn’t necessarily have to expect to receive a miracle, but they had to have an expectation. What is expectation? It’s another word for hope. You have to have a hope.

I think, so many times, in all of the trials, we become discouraged and overridden with the inability to have hope. We lose our expectation. We become bitter and burdened. We are not full of hope and seeking, knowing and believing God is going to bring about His promises and make them come to pass. We have to have a point of expectation.

During this issue I have had, I recognized the point of expectation was immediate healing. When that didn’t come to pass, I lost my expectation. I had to go back and say, “Okay, what is my expectation? I have to reestablish my expectation. I have to reignite my hope.” It’s kind of like hope is our part and faith is God’s part. The faith you have is a gift from God. You can’t conjure it up. He gave it to you. It is deposited in you. He gave you the very ability to believe in Him. 

I had to ask myself, “What do I expect? Who is my hope in? Do I really believe Jesus is who He says He is? Do I believe?” He asked His disciples at one point, “This is what everyone else is saying about me. But who do you say I am?” I really had to answer that question. Who do I say God is? Who do I believe Him to be? Even though I haven’t seen this manifested in my own body, do I believe who He says He is?

I began to listen to the Word pour in and realized my fear was limiting my ability to receive from God. It had punched out my expectation and my hope. I started saying, “Do not be afraid. Only believe. Don’t be in fear. Only believe. Believe only; do not fear.” You can only do one or the other. I started quoting these Scriptures. “I will come and heal. I will, and you will be clean.”

I am saying Jesus is willing. Greater is He who is in me than anything else in the world. There is nothing that can come against me that’s greater than the One who is in me. Jesus is willing. He says, “I will.” His will is aligned with God’s will. So if He will, God will. If God wants to, Jesus wants to. God is willing. Jesus has compassion on us. That is His heart’s desire. He does not want to see us hurting. He wants to see us prosper and be in good health.

I realized I have been robbed of my joy, my hope, my thankfulness, and my health. Not only was I robbed of my physical health, I also was robbed of my joy and my hope. I had to start being thankful and started thinking, “God, thank You, Father, that I can walk. Thank You, Father, that my neck isn’t broken. Thank You, Father, that I am awake another day. Thank You that I am seen and not viewed. Thank You, Father, that I am loved. Thank You that I know Your Word. It is deposited in me. Help awaken it.” As I truly started to motivate and keep my hope up, I stopped walking alone.

The thing is, the enemy prowls around like a roaring lion. He wants to separate you from your pack. He wants to make you prey. Really, the only way to get to your prey is to get them away from their pack, where they are safe.

This journey for me has been isolating. It has been isolating physically. I can’t really hug and kiss my children or people in general because I don’t know if they can be as gentle as they need to be. So to protect myself, I’ve had to say, “No, thank you. We can hand hug.” The other thing is this has limited my intimacy with my husband because I can’t fully function physically right now.

Mentally and emotionally, I can’t engage in conversations with people. I just don’t have it in me. I don’t have small talk in me. I’m easily exhausted. I can only take on these little bitty bites of social activity. The thought of being social burdens me so much. I don’t want to be social right now. I don’t want drop-by visitors. I don’t want people to bring me food because I don’t want to have to talk to them. I don’t want to have to engage socially. If they want to leave it on the porch, thank you for blessing me. But it’s not really a blessing for me to have to engage and entertain right now. It hurts my neck to turn and be in conversation. It hurts my eyes to look up to the left and down to the right. It’s just random little things. It’s truly been isolating. I’ve been all alone. I don’t even want to text because it hurts my arm, neck, and eyes to have my phone in front of me. It’s been a silent time.

The truth is I am not alone. I couldn’t be more loved, adored, and surrounded by the Father and the people who are around me. I just don’t want to engage with them right now. But I know they’re my friends. They will be there until the end. They are fighting for me, standing in the gap for me. It’s almost like they remind me I am not alone and that increases my hope.

One of my daughters made me realize I had lost my smile. She made me realize I had given up on joy because the pain was so severe that I had lost my ability to smile and engage in laughter. Other days, I didn’t do as much. I sat around and didn’t speak. I didn’t have anything to say.

That’s enough. It’s not okay to steal my joy because that’s attached to my hope and my health. That is one thing I need to keep. I continue to encourage myself. I tell myself I shouldn’t be afraid and I should believe only. I asked the Father to rid me of doubt. I read the Word and realized God meets you where your faith is.

Remember the woman with the issue of blood? Her faith was, “If I only touch the hem of His garment, then I will be healed.” The centurion would speak the Word only. That was his faith. The guy at the gate called Beautiful wasn’t even expecting to be healed, but he looked at Peter and John with the expectation to receive something. That was his point of faith. Jesus met them there.

I reestablished my point of expectation, just proclaimed it out loud, “I repent for losing my expectation. This is my expectation. This is what I believe.” I had a face to face visit with Jesus. I pictured Him in my mind, and I said, “I don’t want to be like Your disciples, who, even though they saw You, walked with You, and saw Your miracles, were still in awe and shocked by them because they didn’t really know who You were. But I know You. I know who You are. I have walked with You. I know You are willing. I know You are trustworthy. I know You have sent Your Holy Spirit, and greater are You than that which is in me. Father, this is what I expect. I expect that every time I have a symptom, I can speak Your name only and it will be gone in Jesus’ name. I know that every symptom doesn’t mean healing didn’t come. It came two thousand years ago, and healing is present. I believe and expect my body to receive that healing immediately. When a new symptom comes, it is exactly what it is. It is the enemy trying to make the symptoms louder than my knowledge and relationally knowing who God is and what He desires for me. Those new symptoms, I will not let them tear me down in fear. I will rebuke fear in the name of Jesus. Now I pray, Father, that You will set me free from the fear that has entangled me.”

I reestablished my expectation and said, “This is what I expect to happen.” It made me fight before I move. I speak, and I pray. I speak to my mountain, and I expect. I am not just praying and hoping, wishing a wishful hope. I am praying, fully expecting it to happen. I am expecting the visible to submit to the invisible. How awesome is that? And He is doing it.


Stop Being So FREAKING Critical

Why do you always need there to be something wrong with me?
Seriously, with some people (including me), the first thing out of their mouth after “hi” is always “What’s wrong?” When I have a problem, I usually work through it with God in about five minutes, though some things dig a little deeper and require more time than that. But I feel compelled to have a problem when someone asks, so I catch myself trying to make up something that’s wrong. “What a weirdo,” you might be saying, but I know you know exactly what I mean.
Some people need you to be messed up. They can clearly point out all your defects.

They need to focus on other people’s failures because they’re ultimately insecure about their own.

I think it makes them feel better about themselves and their own messed-up lives: “Hey, maybe I am not all bad because look at so and so.”

Consider others better than yourselves. Stop being critical out of the gate. No one wants to feel like you are constantly digging for what’s wrong with them. Listen to yourself. Ask yourself: Are you trying to find what’s wrong with others and why?
  • Are you deflecting the attention from yourself to someone else so they can’t see what’s really going on with you?
  • Are you trying to distract everyone from you because you have major issues?
  • Are you a fixer and you need people to be messed up so you can put your nose in it and try to fix it? 
  • Are you constantly reading into texts, social media, and conversations with a critical eye, looking for something bad or negative, just one more thing to tear down in someone else?

Well, STOP IT! 


Its easy to pull out whats wrong with people. Its easy to talk about the news, sports, and other surface-level stuff. Its easy to be CRITICAL. Its easy to defend yourself. Its easy to build walls. Its easy to be NEGATIVE. Its easy to hurt people with your words. Its easy to be RUDE. Its easy to hate your enemies. Its easy to trample on weak people. Its easy to look at others rather than inspecting yourself. Its easy to be AVERAGE. 
But we were never called to be average! NOPE! We are called to the plow—to work hard, to plant in times of drought. To plant what? LIFE!!!  Isaac planted in a drought and reaped BLESSINGS! 

Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, 
because the LORD blessed him. (Genesis 26:12 NIV)

It’s HARD to pull out whats GOOD about people! Its hard to find things to be thankful for! 

We were never called to be lazy. We are called to do HARD THINGS!

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! (Proverbs 6:6 NIV)
Find something good to say!
Find something good in everyone.
Stop complaining about their lives and their behaviors. If it bothers you that much, PRAY but don’t talk about it. Let go and let God.
You are not their Holy Spirit. Shhhh! Is there anything going on that you think God doesn’t already know about? 
You are not their Savior. You aren’t their Jesus. You are never going to be. It’s God’s kindness that leads man to repentance and change, not your correction (believe me, I am preaching to the choir).
The world is negative enough. Zip your lips. Speak kindly to each other. Love each other—yes, even when it’s hard. You don’t have to point out everything that is wrong, so STOP IT!
You don’t have to make it all better!
You can actually allow some things to roll off your back, taking EVERY thought captive and making it obedient to Christ (see 2 Corinthians 10:5). 
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, 
if you love one another. (John 13:35 NIV)
Consider loving others. Consider speaking WELL of them. Consider speaking LIFE to them and encouraging them through text, phone, and social media and in person, even when they’ve done nothing to earn it.
I bet you think you are one of those people who do this already, right? Don’t be so arrogant about your ways! Take a second look. Deeply inspect yourself because I am confident we can all use improvement in this area.

Stop Being so FREAKING Critical

Why do you always need there to be something wrong with me?
Seriously, with some people (including me), the first thing out of their mouth after “hi” is always “What’s wrong?” When I have a problem, I usually work through it with God in about five minutes, though some things dig a little deeper and require more time than that. But I feel compelled to have a problem when someone asks, so I catch myself trying to make up something that’s wrong. “What a weirdo,” you might be saying, but I know you know exactly what I mean.
Some people need you to be messed up. They can clearly point out all your defects.

They need to focus on other people’s failures because they’re ultimately insecure about their own.

I think it makes them feel better about themselves and their own messed-up lives: “Hey, maybe I am not all bad because look at so and so.”

Consider others better than yourselves. Stop being critical out of the gate. No one wants to feel like you are constantly digging for what’s wrong with them. Listen to yourself. Ask yourself: Are you trying to find what’s wrong with others and why?
  • Are you deflecting the attention from yourself to someone else so they can’t see what’s really going on with you?
  • Are you trying to distract everyone from you because you have major issues?
  • Are you a fixer and you need people to be messed up so you can put your nose in it and try to fix it? 
  • Are you constantly reading into texts, social media, and conversations with a critical eye, looking for something bad or negative, just one more thing to tear down in someone else?

Well, STOP IT! 


Its easy to pull out whats wrong with people. Its easy to talk about the news, sports, and other surface-level stuff. Its easy to be CRITICAL. Its easy to defend yourself. Its easy to build walls. Its easy to be NEGATIVE. Its easy to hurt people with your words. Its easy to be RUDE. Its easy to hate your enemies. Its easy to trample on weak people. Its easy to look at others rather than inspecting yourself. Its easy to be AVERAGE. 
But we were never called to be average! NOPE! We are called to the plow—to work hard, to plant in times of drought. To plant what? LIFE!!!  Isaac planted in a drought and reaped BLESSINGS! 

Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, 
because the LORD blessed him. (Genesis 26:12 NIV)

It’s HARD to pull out whats GOOD about people! Its hard to find things to be thankful for! 

We were never called to be lazy. We are called to do HARD THINGS!

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! (Proverbs 6:6 NIV)
Find something good to say!
Find something good in everyone.
Stop complaining about their lives and their behaviors. If it bothers you that much, PRAY but don’t talk about it. Let go and let God.
You are not their Holy Spirit. Shhhh! Is there anything going on that you think God doesn’t already know about? 
You are not their Savior. You aren’t their Jesus. You are never going to be. It’s God’s kindness that leads man to repentance and change, not your correction (believe me, I am preaching to the choir).
The world is negative enough. Zip your lips. Speak kindly to each other. Love each other—yes, even when it’s hard. You don’t have to point out everything that is wrong, so STOP IT!
You don’t have to make it all better!
You can actually allow some things to roll off your back, taking EVERY thought captive and making it obedient to Christ (see 2 Corinthians 10:5). 
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, 
if you love one another. (John 13:35 NIV)
Consider loving others. Consider speaking WELL of them. Consider speaking LIFE to them and encouraging them through text, phone, and social media and in person, even when they’ve done nothing to earn it.
I bet you think you are one of those people who do this already, right? Don’t be so arrogant about your ways! Take a second look. Deeply inspect yourself because I am confident we can all use improvement in this area.